There is no shortage of family fun in sunny San Diego, with attractions like SeaWorld and Legoland, but these big-ticket destinations can really be a strain on the budget. Check out these alternative attractions in San Diego, guaranteeing your family has tons of fun together without breaking the bank.
This spot is totally free to visit and it’s a great way to get the family hiking outdoors, sightseeing and adventuring. This coastal nature reserve is totally free to visit and is one of the best places in the city to enjoy a day of fresh air followed by a beautiful sunset. Bring lunch and enjoy the park’s several trails — all various lengths so there is something for everyone. There is also great swimming on the beach below the reserve during the warmer months.
This beautiful island located within San Diego Bay is known as one of the most picturesque spots in the city. Starting with a massive steel-girder bridge transporting you there (which itself is often a draw for tourists) to the dog beach on the far side of the island, there is plenty to see and do on Coronado.
Botanic gardens are always a great way to spend a day as a family wandering through beautiful topiaries — San Diego’s version doesn’t disappoint. With 37 acres filled with 5,000 plant species to explore, along with plenty of children’s activities, including the Hamilton Children’s Garden, there is something for every member of the family. Admission for adults is $18 while kids get in for $10.
Harper’s Topiary Garden
This unique attraction won’t take much time to visit but it’s worth the effort to find it and experience the fascinating topiary garden in a local couple’s front yard. This labor of love includes more than 50 life-sized topiaries carefully trimmed by hand into fun and beautiful figures. The couple created this quirky site to give people something fun and creative to look at and it gives visitors some great photo opportunities.
Amphibious bus tours are always a fun way to explore a city. Seal Tours’ Hydra-Terra vehicles take guests on a 90-minute, narrated tour of downtown San Diego before hitting the water for an aquatic tour of the bay. The first 30 minutes on land show you the main sites and the remaining 60 minutes in the water let you observe native marine life and experience a totally different perspective on the city.
Chances are you know South Beach or have heard about the southernmost section of Miami Beach — 23rd Street to South Pointe Park. It’s the historic Art Deco district with stunning white and pastel buildings lining Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and beyond.
Tucked into the central coast of California is a trail of history waiting to be found by your kids. The Highway 1 Discovery Route through San Luis Obispo County snakes along the winnowy Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The more than 100 miles of mostly protected coastline begins after a four-hour drive from San Francisco at Ragged Point, or about three hours from Los Angeles at Nipomo. The trail features 10 cities, connected by cliffs, carved by a moody ocean, and a slower pace of life. There are plenty of reasons to stop and walk into the past, preserved by those whose hearts still live there. Nature lovers will linger on the many trails to hike and picnic areas. We drove from Los Angeles with two 9-year-old boys to explore this part of the state.
Raising a budding Julia Child or Jacques Pépin? Or just looking for a more interactive family activity? Register your family (or kids) for a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America.
By Hainan Airlines
The coastal city of Dubrovnik, in the south, is perhaps the most popular destination in Croatia for families. The red roof tops of the white buildings are a strong contrast to the jewel-toned Adriatic Sea surrounding the city, making it a picturesque stop for many cruise ships. The city is known for being affordable for families looking for a seaside vacation.